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Published February 25th 2013
More than a couple of big green walls
To some, these courts may appear to be nothing more than a couple of seemingly pointless piles of bricks, mortar and dark green paint. However, to the inventive novacastrian, they can be so much more.
Across the road from Bar Beach and not far from Darby Street, the Empire Park wall ball courts are in the perfect location for a fun, physically active weekend. There are two walls, with one being double sided, providing three courts in total.
The most common use for the walls is the ingeniously named sport, wall ball. This tennis like game is played with racquets or wooden bats and with a few slight rule modifications, can be played by anywhere from 1 to around 5 players. Any more than that and the court can become overcrowded.
One unfortunate drawback to wall ball is the fact that balls must be retrieved when hit over the wall. This situation (known as "ball over the wall") is a wall ballers worst nightmare and results in a degrading and often time consuming rummage through the adjacent bushes. These bushes can prove to be formidable opponents due to their spiky nature and it is recommended that gloves and goggles be worn when searching for lost balls.
Fortunately unlike the wall itself, the wall's uses are not bound by finite parameters and with a little imagination, the courts can be used for a myriad of different leisure activities.
Why not call up grandpa and take him to the courts? The flat surfaces are perfect for a few rounds of shuffle board. If grandpa's gone senile then round up a gang for some novelty oversized badminton over the double sided wall. Or why not simply kick back and lay on the hot surface like a reptile, absorbing warmth from the sun?
One of the wall ball court's greatest assets is their simplicity. They don't require booking, just show up and play. With three available courts there is often at least one vacancy and if not, there is an unspoken rule amongst players that court time should be shared fairly.
As well as this, the courts are absolutely free to use. There's no coin-operated, fold-out, retractable wall system that you would expect from Newcastle City Council.
And if all this wasn't enough there is much to admire in the walls themselves. Their aesthetically pleasing rectangular shape appeals to lovers of uniformity and their rich dark green colour reminds passers-by of a warm spinach stew, just like mamma used to make.
Whether you're after a routine hobby, occasional pass time or one off fling, the Empire Park wall ball courts offer an array of exciting activities in a pleasant outdoor environment.